Audi SA Introduces Google Earth Navigation

Audi South Africa is pleased to announce the introduction of Audi connect on-line services. Audi connect includes navigation via Google Earth Imagery and Google Street View, integral WLAN hotspot for internet access on the move and a Point of Interest Search for quick navigation services.
Audi connect services will be launched in South Africa with the introduction of the new Audi A4 range. Audi connect will also be available in the Audi A5 range, Audi A6, Audi A7 Sportback, Audi A8 and the Audi Q7. Connect services are planned for the Audi A1 and Audi Q3 at a later stage.
Audi has been collaborating with Google since 2005, and, as a result of this fruitful partnership, has set new standards in Internet use in the vehicle. With Audi connect it is now continuing to build on this foundation and is expanding its product range to include new forms of networking. In the process, Audi connect is encompassing the fields of online vehicle connection, networking of the car and its owner and networking of the car with the infrastructure and with other cars.
Audi connect brings the benefits of an increasingly networked world into this vehicle. This term brackets together all applications and developments that connect up to present-day and future Audi models with the internet, the owner and the infrastructure.
Audi connect services take communication, information and entertainment to a new level. They make it easy for you to search for any particular points of interest on Google using the MMI, check news headlines or call up the latest weather forecast for your navigation destination. Data transfer is by means of the UMTS module of the Bluetooth car phone online, which has to be ordered as an option for the MMI navigation plus.
The WLAN hotspot is a world first. It enables front and rear passengers to retrieve important information, data and e-mails just as conveniently and securely as in their office or home. Communication with the internet is via the roof aerial, through the car’s own UMTS module.
These connections make a wide array of useful applications possible, such as the unrestricted integration of Google Earth into the navigation system’s map display, which makes orientation significantly easier. In addition, due to being connected to the Google search engine, the driver has instant access to a huge number of up-to-date points of interest.
Thanks to the integrated W-LAN hotspot, up to eight mobile devices can be linked to the Internet and rear passengers have full internet access when the vehicle is in motion. Audi customers will be able to use Google Street View as a new online service, and will be able to view the navigation destination on the MMI display from the pedestrian’s perspective in a 360-degree radius.
Thanks to the new Audi connect technologies; driving an Audi will be even more enjoyable, efficient and safe. And in spite of all of the networking, the technology will play a supporting role and will never overrule the driver.
 

GM, NASA Jointly Developing Robotic Gloves

General Motors and NASA are jointly developing a robotic glove that auto workers and astronauts can wear to help do their respective jobs better while potentially reducing the risk of repetitive stress injuries.
The Human Grasp Assist device, known internally in both organizations as the K-glove or Robo-Glove, resulted from GM and NASA’s Robonaut 2 (R2) project, which launched the first human-like robot into space in 2011. R2 is a permanent resident of the International Space Station.
When engineers, researchers and scientists from GM and NASA began collaborating on R2 in 2007, one of the design requirements was for the robot to operate tools designed for humans, alongside astronauts in outer space and factory workers on Earth. The team achieved an unprecedented level of hand dexterity on R2 by using leading-edge sensors, actuators and tendons comparable to the nerves, muscles and tendons in a human hand.
Research shows that continuously gripping a tool can cause fatigue in hand muscles within a few minutes. Initial testing of the Robo-Glove indicates the wearer can hold a grip longer and more comfortably.
“When fully developed, the Robo-Glove has the potential to reduce the amount of force that an auto worker would need to exert when operating a tool for an extended time or with repetitive motions,” said Dana Komin, GM’s manufacturing engineering director, Global Automation Strategy and Execution. “In so doing, it is expected to reduce the risk of repetitive stress injury.”
For example, an astronaut working in a pressurized suit outside the space station or an assembly operator in a factory might need to use 15-20 pounds of force to hold a tool during an operation but with the robotic glove only five-to-10 pounds of force might need to be applied.
“The prototype glove offers my space suit team a promising opportunity to explore new ideas, and challenges our traditional thinking of what extravehicular activity hand dexterity could be,” said Trish Petete, division chief, Crew and Thermal Systems Division, NASA Johnson Space Center.
Inspired by the finger actuation system of R2, actuators are embedded into the upper portion of the glove to provide grasping support to human fingers. The pressure sensors, similar to the sensors that give R2 its sense of touch are incorporated into the fingertips of the glove to detect when the user is grasping a tool. When the user grasps the tool, the synthetic tendons automatically retract, pulling the fingers into a gripping position and holding them there until the sensor is released. GM and NASA have submitted 46 patent applications for R2, including 21 for R2’s hand and four for the Robo-Glove alone.
The first prototype of the glove was completed in March 2011 with a second generation arriving three months later. The fabric for the glove was produced by Oceaneering Space Systems, the same company that provided R2’s “skin.”
The current prototypes weigh about two pounds and include the control electronics, actuators and a small display for programming and diagnostics. An off-the-shelf lithium-ion power-tool battery with a belt-clip is used to power the system. A third-generation prototype that will use repackaged components to reduce the size and weight of the system is nearing completion.
“We are continuously looking for ways to improve safety and productivity on the shop floor,” Komin said. “Our goal is to bring this technology to the shop floor in the near future.”
NASA and GM have a long, rich history of partnering on key technologies, starting in the 1960s with the development of the navigation systems for the Apollo missions. GM also played a vital role in the development of the Lunar Rover Vehicle, the first vehicle used on the moon.

Bio-based Tyres Edge Closer to Reality

Goodyear and DuPont Industrial Biosciences are working together to develop BioIsoprene, a revolutionary bio-based alternative for petroleum-derived isoprene. BioIsoprene can be used for the production of synthetic rubber, which in turn is an alternative for natural rubber and other elastomers. The development of BioIsoprene will help reduce the tyre and rubber industry’s dependence on oil-derived products.
Currently, the two companies have demonstrated proof of the technology through the production of a prototype tyre made with BioIsoprene monomer. This tyre is on display at the Goodyear stand at the 2012 Geneva International Motor Show.
For Goodyear, a bio-based alternative to synthetic rubber is an important advancement, as the company seeks innovative approaches to addressing raw material needs. The company is committed to reducing its carbon footprint, and BioIsoprene monomer produced from renewable materials will help achieve this goal.
“Finding a replacement for oil-derived materials is the right thing to do from a business standpoint, but it’s also the right thing to do for the environment,” said Jean-Claude Kihn, chief technical officer for The Goodyear Tyre & Rubber Company. “Since synthetic rubber is a critical component to our products and many others, we are very excited to be working on this renewable alternative with DuPont.”
The two companies first signed on to the collaboration in 2008. In May of 2011, DuPont acquired Danisco and its Genencor division which has spearheaded the research and development activities around the BioIsoprene product.
The BioIsoprene monomer is derived from renewable raw materials as well and represents a significant development within the biochemical and rubber industries where traditional isoprene is currently used. Aside from synthetic rubber for tyre production, BioIsoprene can be used in a wide range of products such as surgical gloves, golf balls and adhesives. By itself, Goodyear is one of the world’s largest users of isoprene for the production of synthetic rubber and other elastomers.
The two companies have invested jointly for more than four years to validate the project, establish the teams, and secure intellectual property assets. To date, technical progress has exceeded expectations. Additional investments to establish pilot plant operations and manufacturing infrastructure are expected.

Goodyear Innovations On Display In Geneva

Goodyear’s innovative technology and industry-leading new product engine are on display at the 82nd Geneva International Motor Show taking place this week in Switzerland.
New technologies on display include Goodyear’s Air Maintenance Technology (AMT), a self-inflating tyre system that can help reduce fuel consumption. Visitors to the Geneva Motor Show will see how tyres can remain inflated at the optimum pressure without the need for any external pumps, electronics or driver intervention.
“Consumers often overlook the importance of maintaining proper tyre pressure,” said Jean-Claude Kihn, Goodyear senior vice president and chief technical officer. “We believe this technology will have immediate positive impact for drivers in terms of performance and for the environment through improved fuel efficiency, reduced emissions and extended tyre life. Goodyear has taken on this challenge and the progress we have made is very encouraging to the point that we are now ready to demonstrate it in Geneva for the first time.”
Additional new technologies on display include the company’s Electric Vehicle Tyre Technology developed for CityHush, a European Union-sponsored project to reduce noise in cities throughout Europe. Goodyear will show how Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology is being taken from the race track to the road to make consumer and fleet tyres more intelligent in the future, and Goodyear’s innovative Spring Tyre – an airless tyre designed originally for use on the moon. Another concept tyre on display is made with BioIsoprene, a revolutionary bio-based alternative for petroleum-derived isoprene. The development of BioIsoprene will help reduce the tyre industry’s dependence on oil-derived products.
Goodyear’s Europe, Middle East and Africa tyre business will highlight its latest consumer tyre technologies including RunOnFlat Technology and 4D Sipe Technology. The company will also exhibit its new 2012 product which will be available in South Africa – the Goodyear EfficientGrip SUV.
Goodyear will host a special display where the media can learn about the upcoming introduction of tyre labels in Europe this year. European consumers will see tyres in their dealerships carrying a standardised label that provides information on three key performance attributes: rolling resistance, wet grip and exterior rolling noise.
“Goodyear has always been proactive in research and development and we are looking forward to displaying a range of innovations that people will never have seen before,” said Jean Pierre Jeusette, general director of Goodyear’s Luxembourg Innovation Center. “These technologies have been specifically developed to meet the ever-changing requirements of modern consumers and society focused on performance, sustainability, the environment and convenience.”

AVIS Adds Android To Smartphone Apps

Avis Rent a Car announces the launch of its Android reservations app, which enables customers to book their car rental through any Avis branch worldwide from their smartphone running the Android operating system.
Avis chief information officer, Mynhardt van der Walt says, “It has been a goal of ours to be able to grow our menu of smartphone applications to make it more convenient for these customers to find the closest Avis office, to book on-the-go and to also manage these bookings.”
The Avis Android app will store the customer’s personal details securely from their first booking, which means confidential information only needs to be entered once. Reservations can also be viewed and cancelled from the app and a smart search function has been included, which displays nearby Avis branches with a map and full address. The app can be adapted for international travel and bookings.
Van der Walt adds, “Making it as convenient as possible for our customers to use our services and to make their experience enjoyable at the same time, is what makes Avis a leading car rental brand. It is with this in mind that Avis continues to develop and grow their mobile offerings.”
Customers are able to search for the Avis Android app through the Android Market on their smartphones, or use the following link to download the app through their PC: https://market.android.com/details?id=com.avis.android.za
The iPhone app is already available to South African users for free through the Apple App Store. The South African based Avis Blackberry app is also available at no charge on the South Africa BlackBerry App World.

GM Explores Windows of Opportunity

A new concept in rear seat entertainment technology that uses the windows themselves could replace squirminess and snoozing with interactive scribbling, sweeping and pinching.
General Motors Research and Development put that challenge before researchers and students from the Future Lab at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Israel. The task: Conceptualize new ways to help rear seat passengers, particularly children, have a richer experience on the road.
The Windows of Opportunity (WOO) Project was inspired by psychological studies indicating car passengers often feel disconnected from their environment. So GM asked the Bezalel students to turn car windows into interactive displays capable of stimulating awareness, nurturing curiosity and encouraging a stronger connection with the world outside the vehicle.
“Traditionally, the use of interactive displays in cars has been limited to the driver and front passenger, but we see an opportunity to provide a technology interface designed specifically for rear seat passengers,” said Tom Seder, GM R&D lab group manager for human-machine interface. “Advanced windows that are capable of responding to vehicle speed and location could augment real world views with interactive enhancements to provide entertainment and educational value.”
Since GM has no immediate plans to put interactive display windows into production vehicles, the R&D team gave free reign to the Bezalel students to create applications without concern whether they could be mass produced. Bezalel is Israel’s oldest institute of higher education and one of the more prestigious schools of its kind in the world.
The apps include:
Otto, an animated character projected over passing scenery that responds to real-time car performance, weather and landscape. With Otto, passengers can learn about their environment in fun, playful ways.
Foofu, an app that allows passengers to create, explore and discover through finger drawing on window steam.
Spindow, an app that provides its users a peek into other users’ windows around the globe in real time.
Pond, an app that allows passengers to stream and share music with other cars on the road, download favorite tracks, and share messages with other passengers on the road.
To demonstrate these apps, the students produced a full scale functional prototype of a rear passenger seat and side window. The students used motion and optical sensor technology developed by EyeClick to turn standard window glass into a multi-touch and gesture sensitive surface.
If such interactive windows were put into automotive production they likely would use electronically charged “smart glass” technology, which is capable of variable states of translucence and transparency, and can reflect projected images. Smart glass is increasingly used in architectural and display applications, but outside of movies like Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is rarely seen in cars.
“Projects like WOO are invaluable, because working with designers and scholars from outside of the automotive industry brings fresh perspective to vehicle technology development,” said Omer Tsimhoni, lab group manager for human-machine interface, GM Advanced Technical Center in Israel. “WOO is just one of many projects underway at GM that could reinvent the passenger experience in years to come.”

Google And Daimler Strengthen Ties

At the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Daimler and Google announced a deepening of their strategic partnership to provide Daimler with access to the suite of application programming interfaces (APIs) known as Google Maps API for Business for the use of cloud-based, map-related applications in Daimler vehicles and early access to other new APIs as they are developed.
These applications significantly accelerate time-to-market in Mercedes-Benz passenger cars. The existing services, which include the Google Maps and Places APIs, will create an enhanced motoring experience for Mercedes-Benz drivers across the world.
The collaboration will enable Daimler to use Google Maps for their in-car map displays, and significantly improve their ability to quickly and seamlessly integrate useful Google services into Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles. By making innovative Google products available directly within its cars, Mercedes-Benz is able to accelerate the adoption of cutting edge technologies.
Daimler has a strong history of bringing innovative solutions to market. After demonstrating their technological leadership with AMG Performance Media, an in-car telemetry system powered by AndroidTM in autumn 2011 at the launch of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster, Daimler was named “International CES Innovations 2012 Design and Engineering Awards Honoree”.
Google and Daimler have been working in close partnership for many years. In 2007 Daimler was the first automotive manufacturer in the United States to launch the Google “Send-to-Car” functionality in a vehicle. This gave Mercedes-Benz customers the opportunity to easily send destinations from Google Maps to their in-vehicle navigation systems.
As of 2011, Mercedes-Benz offers COMAND Online, a telematics system with cloud-based Mercedes-Benz apps that brings Google Street View, Panoramio and local search technologies to most Mercedes-Benz passenger cars. Mercedes-Benz customers also have the opportunity to send individualized routes from Google Maps to their vehicles, as Daimler is first-to-market with the implementation of this Google service. In the second quarter of 2012 all these services will also be available with mbrace2 to Mercedes-Benz customers in the USA.

Advanced Carbon Fibre Nears Broad Automotive Use

General Motors (GM) and Teijin Limited, a leader in the carbon fibre and composites industry, will co-develop advanced carbon fibre composite technologies for potential high-volume use globally in GM cars, trucks and crossovers.
The partnership will potentially enable GM to introduce CFRTP components on mainstream vehicles. For Teijin, the arrangement could lead to widening its portfolio beyond specialty and high-end automotive carbon fibre applications.
“Our relationship with Teijin provides the opportunity to revolutionize the way carbon fibre is used in the automotive industry,” said GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky. “This technology holds the potential to be an industry game changer and demonstrates GM’s long-standing commitment to innovation.”
To support the relationship, Teijin will establish the Teijin Composites Application Centre, a technical centre in the northern part of the United States early next year.
As carbon fibre is 10 times stronger than regular-grade steel yet only one-quarter of the weight, carbon fibre composites used as automobile components are expected to dramatically reduce vehicle weight. Consumers benefit from lighter weight vehicles with better fuel economy and all the safety benefits that come with vehicles of greater mass.
Teijin’s proprietary breakthrough is its ability to mass-produce carbon fibre-reinforced thermoplastic components with cycle times of under a minute. Conventional carbon fibre-reinforced composites use thermosetting resins and require a much longer timeframe for moulding. This time factor has limited the use of carbon fibre in high-volume vehicles.
Increasingly, strict global environmental standards and fuel economy regulations have intensified the need to reduce vehicle mass by using lightweight materials in place of high-tension steel or aluminium.
The Teijin Group, which has identified automobiles as a key growth market, accelerated the new technology development through collaboration by the Teijin Composites Innovation Centre and Toho Tenax Co. Ltd., where the mass-production technology for carbon fibre reinforced plastic components using thermoplastic resin was successfully developed.
“Teijin’s innovative CFRTP technology, which promises to realize revolutionarily lighter automotive body structures, will play an important role in GM’s initiative to bring carbon fibre components into mainstream vehicles”, said Norio Kamei, senior managing director of Teijin. “We believe our visionary relationship with GM will lead the way in increased usage of green composites in the automotive industry.”
The launch of any carbon fibre-intensive vehicle applications resulting from the relationship will be announced closer to market readiness. The agreement does not involve an exchange of equity between the companies.

GM Creates Recipe for Brakes That Shine

A General Motors’ team of global brake experts is helping to make rusty brake rotors history by changing the chemical makeup of the components using a process that could double the life of rotors and save consumers hundreds of dollars.
The engineers developed an exclusive corrosion protection process that super heats the rotors at 560 degrees Celsius for a day in an oven the size of a tour bus. Inside the nitrogen-rich atmosphere, nitrogen atoms bond to the surface of the steel rotor, hardening and strengthening the rotor.
The name for the technology is Ferritic Nitro-Carburizing, or FNC, and it has most often been used to treat powertrain parts.
Since its introduction on brake rotors in 2008, FNC has helped reduce warranty claims on brakes by 70 per cent. This is significant because in a recent consumer study conducted by GM, four in 10 vehicle owners listed corrosion among the top three bothersome things about their cars. The same study showed brake components at the top of the list of customer concerns.
More than 80 per cent of U.S. vehicles are exposed to one or more environmental corrosion creators, such as acid rain, intense sunlight, snow and ice, and road salt. GM brake rotor technical expert Jim Webster and his team were confident that slowing the oxidation brought on by the environment was a problem material science could solve.
Incorporating a unique surface treatment equivalent to one-tenth the width of a human hair, FNC creates sufficient friction and allows for effective braking performance while providing corrosion protection.
With FNC, GM vehicles are free of brake pedal or steering wheel shudder caused by an uneven buildup of rust on the rotor that occurs over time. FNC rotors create less brake dust than non-FNC rotors. And for vehicles with large open-architecture wheels that show off wheel hardware, FNC helps keep rotors looking clean and rust-free longer.
FNC rotor technology is featured on the Buick Lacrosse and Regal as well as on the Chevrolet Malibu, Impala and Volt in North America. It will be featured on more than 80 per cent of GM’s U.S. vehicles by model year 2016. By avoiding rotor repair and replacement, FNC treatment could save customers more than R3 000 over 10 years.
“Rotors aren’t a cheap thing to replace,” said Webster. “So doubling the average life expectancy of the brake rotors is something we think our customers will appreciate.”
GM is the only company that has found a way to effectively treat brake rotors with the FNC process and has several patents pending on the technology, contributing to the company’s No.1 position among automotive and transportation innovators as tracked by the U.S. Patent Board.
“GM engineers are pushing forward with innovative technologies that meet the demanding needs of our customers,” said John Calabrese, vice president of Global Vehicle Engineering.